Muscat: London-registered mining and mineral development firm Savannah Resources says it has been advised by Oman’s Public Authority for Mining (PAM) that its applications for mining licenses targeting promising copper and associated gold deposits in North Al Batinah Governorate have been green-lighted by the country’s regulatory agencies, according to Oman Observer.
The AIM-listed company, which is a major shareholder in Oman-based Al Fairuz Mining LLC, announced in a statement over the weekend that a pair of mining licenses from PAM, the regulator of the mining and mineral development sector, is now imminent for Mahab 4 and Maqail South high-grade copper deposits in mineral-rich Block 5.
The revelation represents a further boost for Oman’s efforts to develop a thriving and value-generating mining industry as part of the government’s wider push to diversify the national economy. It also comes less than five months after the government issued a new Mining Law designed to attract local and international investment, as well as technology and expertise, into the Sultanate’s burgeoning mining industry.
Welcoming PAM’s intimation, Savannah’s CEO David Archer said: “Mahab 4 and Maqail South are examples of the type of high-grade copper deposits that are characteristic of the Oman Ophiolite Belt and will be in the vanguard of new copper mine developments in Oman. Block 5 remains highly prospective for the discovery of further high-grade deposits that could further augment the planned hub-and-spoke mine development based around Mahab and Maqail South. We look forward to announcing the final award of the Mining Licences in due course.”
Savannah is a 65 per cent shareholder in Al Fairuz Mining LLC, an Omani company that owns the Block 5 Exploration Licence which includes the high-grade Mahab 4 and Maqail South deposits. Al Fairuz Mining plans an open-cut development at the Maqail South deposit and an underground development at the Mahab 4 deposit.
The JV also has exploration rights to multiple prospective targets in the adjoining Block 4 licence. This includes four targets (Aarja, Zuha, Lasail and Bayda) which host old copper mines that collectively produced over 190,000 tonnes of copper and boast existing mine infrastructure to support rapid development and prospecting, and two targets with additional gold upside potential (Salahi 1 and Gaddamah).
Adding to the overall viability of the project is Block 5’s proximity to Port of Sohar, from where copper concentrate (absent competitive opportunities for smelting within the country) is proposed to be exported.
Importantly, the latest mining licenses are expected to give new impetus to the exponential growth of copper mining in the Sultanate. In April, Omani-Australian mining firm Al Hadeetha Resources was awarded a licence to develop a major copper deposit at Washihi-Mazzaza in Al Mudhaibi Wilayat.
Australian based mining investment firm Alara Resources is a 70 per cent partner in the project, which centres on the commercialisation of an estimated 16 million tonnes of copper ore — billed as the largest single copper resource in the Sultanate to date.